Fond memories for Manuel Lanzini as West Ham prepare for huge Tottenham clash - ‘it was an incredible year’

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  • West Ham United
    West Ham United
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  • Manuel Lanzini
    Manuel Lanzini
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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Manuel Lanzini is one of the longest serving players at West Ham, but when the Argentine is stopped in the street all anyone wants to talk about is Tottenham.

West Ham head to the home of their rivals for a Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday for the first time since Lanzini’s late screamer completed a dramatic 3-3 draw there last season when they came from three goals down in the final 10 minutes.

The 28-year-old sealed an astonishing comeback in the fourth minute of added time with one of the all-time great Premier League goals to secure his place in West Ham folklore.

On as a late substitute and arriving from deep, Lanzini cut across a half-clearance from Harry Winks and sent a rocket into the top corner past Hugo Lloris.

Lanzini has had plenty of highs during five years at West Ham, but that one moment stands alone.

"It’s the first thing that they [fans] say to me," he tells Standard Sport.

"It’s understandable because people always remember those important moments and this was one of those nicest moments we saw that year. In a difficult year with lots of complications; because there were no people in the stadium, because of Covid, because of so many things.

"People remember this goal really well.

"It’s always nice to play games like this, they’re the derbies. It’s fun to play them, especially after the goal that I scored. Hopefully it can be another one like that. It’s an important one for us, for the team."

Tonight is not only a huge fixture for West Ham, who are on the brink of their first semi-final since 2014, but one in which they now know they can more than compete in.

Since that crazy 3-3 draw in October 2020, West Ham have won both of their other meetings with Tottenham and have already knocked Manchester United and holders Manchester City out of the Carabao Cup in their run to the quarter-finals.

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

“Tottenham at that moment were doing really well in the League," says Lanzini. "But luckily we managed to get a very important point out of it and then we continued to get wins and the truth is that it was an incredible year and with what we are doing now, we’re also having an incredible year so far. And I hope that we continue in this way.

"We are always psyched up in the same way, regardless of who we play. I think that, obviously, always when we play against the teams at the top of the table, or the ‘bigger’ teams or in this case, playing a derby, they have something extra."

For Lanzini, every game right now has something extra.

The midfielder, nicknamed La Joya (The Jewel), was at the peak of his powers when a serious injury struck just ahead of the World Cup in 2018 while training with Lionel Messi and Argentina. Since then, things have never quite been the same for him.

Further injuries and niggles have blighted Lanzini and there were questions over his future at West Ham but, back starting under David Moyes, he is in a good place once more.

"There’s always that fear as to whether you will come back the same or not," he says.

"I think also at the same time, you have to keep looking forwards, you have to keep working to achieve your goal. That’s what comes with playing at the top level in the Premier League.

"I’ve been at this club for many years, it’s honestly been incredible.

"I never would have imagined this, because it’s difficult to maintain this level. I love the club, I love the people, I love this city, I love everything. I feel comfortable, and when you feel comfortable somewhere, you want to stay. So that’s how I feel."

With Lanzini’s heart set on staying at West Ham and making an impact as they challenge on four fronts this season, it appears he will be doing so in a slightly different role.

Moyes sees the former River Plate youngster as a deeper-lying midfielder rather than an out-and-out No10 these days. He dropped deep to play a crucial role in Jarrod Bowen’s goal against Chelsea earlier this month, having already converted his second goal of the season from the penalty spot.

"The coach asked me to do this, to pull back to help the team keep the ball up to help the forwards," says Lanzini.

"I like it, I like it because the pitch is ahead of me, I can see my teammates there so I can see them more clearly, and I have enough room there, yeah the truth is I really like playing in this position.

"We [Lanzini and Moyes] have a really good relationship, I can talk to him a lot, he knows me and how to manage me, we have a really good relationship. He’s someone you can talk to, and that’s really important."

As Lanzini returns to the scene of his fondest memory at West Ham on Wednesday, Hammers fans will be hoping he can give them another one.

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